Archive for July, 2011

Gone fishing … literally

If anybody needs to find me over the next week or so, here’s where I’ll be.

Oh, and you’re going to need a helicopter or a whitewater raft to get there.


Photo by R. Dobkin

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A Travelin’ Music homage to trusty Ol’ Blue


Until this week, I could brag that I was still on my first wife and my first car.

Not any longer. I’m keeping my girl as long as she’ll have me, but we’ve officially parted ways with the 1980 Toyota Corolla — “Old Blue” — that we bought new off the lot more than 30 years ago. Over the years, it had become part of the family, part of the landscape in which we lived. Our two daughters — both off on lives of their own by now — expressed shock and disbelief at the announcement. And when my wife posted the news on Facebook, the responses varied from surprise to melancholy:

“Omg you still had that car!!?!! Whoa!!”

“Ohhh, not the Little Engine That Could! I remember it well…in fact, can’t imagine you without it.”

“WOW! The car I learned how to drive standard with in Oregon. Even Mai is getting teary eyed now and she never sat in it.”

“Jay looks a little sad in that photo, if you ask me. I always liked the beautiful blue color of that car, and I remember the joy of driving it one …

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Chambliss takes a leadership risk

By endorsing a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction deal in Washington, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss has risked making himself a target of an angry Republican base here in Georgia, regardless of how the crisis is finally resolved.

The proposal embraced by Chambliss and other members of the bipartisan Gang of Six calls for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other programs,, which conservatives support. However, it also proposes collecting an additional $1 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years, and conservative orthodoxy insists that any plan that produces additional government revenue is betrayal.

Under the circumstances, the last thing Chambliss needs is some liberal columnist praising his willingness to lead on a tough issue of great national importance. And it would hurt the senator even more to contrast his leadership with the absence of leadership among his fellow Republicans in Georgia’s House delegation, most of whom have taken a deeply irresponsible approach to …

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Is deal imminent? Did someone blink?

Rumors are that a deal’s a cookin’.

Rumors are it’s for $3 trillion in spending cuts, with revenue increases to be adopted later. Or to be adopted now. Or maybe not adopted at all.

As the Washington Post reports, that latter possibility has Senate Democrats up in arms:

After what was described as a rambunctious hour-long meeting with Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced that his caucus opposes what he called the “agreement, potential agreement” because the outlines so far do not include sufficient guarantees of increased tax revenues.

“There’s no agreement. They’re working toward an agreement,” he said, adding that he received a call from a White House official during the meeting that confirmed the president had not reached a final agreement with Boehner.

The meeting included a presentation by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew, who was pilloried by Democrats who contended that Obama was giving away deep cuts to entitlements without any …

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Two brave emissaries from a strange and terrible place

Dudley Clendinen is a former editor at the AJC, among other places, although I do not know him personally. His time here in Atlanta did not coincide with mine.

Last year, Clendinen was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In an essay in last weekend’s New York Times, he writes about how heartened he has been by the way his friends and relatives have rallied around him.

” … one, from Texas, put a hand on my thinning shoulder and appeared to study the ground where we were standing. He had flown in to see me.

“We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?” he asked quietly. He meant to shoot myself with.

“Yes, Sweet Thing,” I said, with a smile. “We do.”

I loved him for that.

As Clendinen notes, ALS — or “Lou,” as he calls it — is “not a kind disease.”

“The nerves and muscles pulse and twitch, and progressively, they die. From the outside, it looks like the ripple of piano keys in the muscles under my skin. From the inside, it feels …

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When a Photoshop is worth a thousand words

I don’t have anything new to say about Rupert Murdoch, but I did think this was funny, ironic and accurate, so …


– Jay Bookman

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GOP strategy premised on non-existent support

Another day, another poll showing that the House GOP, while in line with its base, is badly out of touch with the American mainstream.

The latest is from NBC/Wall Street Journal, and as the National Journal describes it:

“Asked to choose between Obama’s proposal, “which would reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade by cutting federal spending, increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and reducing the level of spending on Medicare,” or the Republicans’ proposal to “reduce the federal deficit by $2.5 trillion over the next decade by cutting federal spending and would not raise taxes on corporations or the wealthy,” respondents choose Obama’s plan by a 58-to-36-percent margin.

Asked whether Democrats should accept cuts to Medicare and Social Security in order to forge a deal, just 38 percent of Americans want them to agree to those conditions. But asked whether Republicans should accept higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy if that was the …

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‘Gang of Six’ plan meaningless without GOP House

A sense of relief washed over Washington Tuesday after the bipartisan Gang of Six — a group that includes Saxby Chambliss of Georgia — announced it had come to agreement on a major deficit-reduction package.

Their announcement was greeted by many as if a path out of the wilderness had been found. President Obama spoke favorably of the plan, calling it “broadly consistent with what we’ve been working on here in the White House.” Senators of both parties expressed support for the plan, at least in broad terms.

As NPR reports:

“One of the 25 Republicans who heard the Gang of Six’s proposal for a grand bargain on debt reduction was Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who ranks third in the GOP leadership. He said he was impressed both with the plan and with the three Republican gang members who helped draft it.

“Senators [Mike] Crapo, [Tom] Coburn and Chambliss are three of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus, and if they study something for six months, tell …

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Bachmann now GOP frontrunner, and other news

Two items from new polls.


The first, from Public Policy Polling, queried Republican primary voters on their preferences. It reports that Michele Bachmann is now running even with or perhaps slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in a head-to-head race.

The Minnesota congresswoman maintains that standing when gauged against the full field:

Bachmann 21%
Romney 20%
Perry 12%
Cain 11%
Paul 9%
Gingrich 7%
Pawlenty 5%

It’s still very early, but a lot of mainstream Republicans have to be appalled by those numbers. With the circus underway in Washington and the popularity of Bachmann — a candidate who would be a fringe player in ordinary times — the Grand Old Party of Dwight Eisenhower and even Ronald Reagan has slipped its moorings.

It’s also interesting to note that although 57 percent of Republicans still have a favorable view of Sarah Palin (compared with 32 percent unfavorable), most don’t want her to run for president.

The second poll, from the Washington Post and ABC News, gets at a …

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House GOP sacrifices progress for purity

By any rational measure, House Republicans were on the verge of a major accomplishment a couple of weeks ago.

Even though they held control of only one legislative chamber, they had backed President Obama into proposing a $4 trillion deficit-reduction package, including more than $3 trillion in spending reductions over the next decade. Enacted into law, it would have easily been the largest budget-cutting package in U.S. history. All they had to do was say yes.

But they could not bring themselves to utter that word.

Their victory, you see, must be absolute and total or it is not victory at all. A “win-win” outcome — fine for liberals and RINO pansies — is insufficiently decisive to those who feel morally obligated to turn politics into scorched-earth warfare. They are Harry Truman demanding unconditional surrender from Imperial Japan.

And they have the Bomb.

As a result, a historically significant reduction in the federal deficit and in once-untouchable entitlement programs …

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